Subjective social status and health

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Subjective social status (SSS) predicts health outcomes above and beyond traditional objective measures of social status, such as education, income and occupation. This review summarizes and integrates recent findings on SSS and health.

Recent findings

Current studies corroborate associations between low SSS and poor health indicators by extending previous findings to further populations and biological risk factors, providing meta-analytic evidence for adolescents and by demonstrating that negative affect may not confound associations between SSS and self-rated health. Recent findings also highlight the relevance of SSS changes (e.g. SSS loss in immigrants) and the need to consider cultural/ethnical differences in psychological mediators and associations between SSS and health.

Summary

SSS is a comprehensive measure of one's social position that is related to several poor health outcomes and risk factors for disease. Future investigation, particularly prospective studies, should extend research on SSS and health to further countries/ethnic groups, also considering additional psychological and biological mediators and dynamic aspects of SSS. Recently developed experimental approaches to manipulate SSS may also be promising.

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